9 Impressive View Points in San Diego to Inspire Wanderlust

There’s nothing better than a great view to inspire wanderlust. Personally, seeing an amazing photo of a destination is often the catalyst that leads me to book a trip. For example, take this shot of Reykjavik. It had me daydreaming about visiting Iceland for 7 years until I finally made that a reality–all because I knew being there in person would be that much more satisfying. If you’re wondering where to find such views in San Diego, here are 9 impressive spots!

Mister A’s

This classy restaurant in Bankers Hill offers amazing views of downtown San Diego with the airport’s flight path in between! It’s so mesmerizing to sit there and watch all the planes land surrounded by stunning views. You can even see the mountains of Mexico on a clear day. Like I said, it’s a classy place so remember the dress code (no shorts for men). It’s also expensive so if you want to come only for the view, ask to sit outdoors for just a drink or two. On the other hand, it’s super romantic at night if you’re looking for a place to celebrate something big.

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Can you spot the airplane landing??

Top of Cowles Mountain

If you have a spare hour and enjoy hiking you won’t regret seeing the views from the highest peak in San Diego county (best on a clear day).

Bayview Park in Coronado

There are multiple parks on the bayside of Coronado, but for some reason this little guy is my favorite out of them all. The view driving over the bridge to get to there is amazing as well! Coronado is one of my favorite places to stroll around for a couple hours. Between the Hotel Del, huge stretch of beach (with a sand castle master at the start and a dog beach at the end!), and beautiful homes everywhere, there’s a lot to see while still being very relaxed.

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Mount Soledad in La Jolla

If you want to see sweeping views over San Diego but don’t want to hike, this option is convenient because you can drive right to the top. Such a gorgeous spot!

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Beach for sunset

This will never get old to me and there are tons of beaches to choose from–any will do! My personal favorite is Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach, but I may be biased because I live there. See more: My Love Letter to Solana Beach

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Just imagine it at sunset! Swoon!

Rooftop bar in Gaslamp District

I always try and get to a rooftop bar wherever I’m traveling as I love the vibes they offer. Rustic Root has a cute rooftop right in the middle of Fifth Street and Altitude Sky Lounge overlooks Petco Park!

The Marine Room in La Jolla

If you want something really luxurious get a meal at The Marine Room. They do high tide dinners and brunch depending on the time of year–you can eat while waves crash against the windows (with a price tag to match).

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Not the best photo but you get the gist 🙂

Outdoor bar with ocean views

George’s at the Cove in La Jolla or El Prez in Pacific Beach are two of my favorites. It doesn’t get better than chilling with a drink in your hand with nothing but ocean stretching out in front of you. George’s has a classier vibe whilst El Prez is younger and can get pretty rowdy as the day goes on.

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Out on the bay

I’ve personally done the jet boat and the brunch cruise with Flagship (highly recommend both) and a boozy catamaran tour (so much fun). Seeing the bay from the bay is pure bliss!

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Have you been to San Diego? Where else would you add to this list?

 

Local’s Guide to the Best Fish Tacos in San Diego

Fish tacos and San Diego go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you’re visiting San Diego you must eat fish tacos at least once to do your trip justice and ensure you experience that beachy, laid back essence of SoCal (#vibes). To help make the decision of where to go for the best, I’ve shared my top picks as well as one wild card pick from Ollie. Happy eating (and remember: having them served on corn tortillas is the authentic way to go)!

Where to find the best fish tacos in San Diego: The Fish Shop

The Fish Shop is one of my absolute favorite places to eat in San Diego in general, but it’s their amazing fish tacos that initially pulled me in. With two locations to choose from (Pacific Beach and Encinitas–both are great places to spend a day if you ask me), getting to The Fish Shop might be your most convenient option out of all these recommendations. Ordering here is super fun–you choose the type of fish you want then pick from many different marinades & plate styles. I also really love how the decor embodies that SoCal vibe perfectly. You will definitely leave with a smile on your face!

The Fish Shop Encinitas 

Where to find the best fish tacos in Cardiff: Las Olas

Eating at a restaurant right across the street from the beach will never get old to me. Then give me a pina colada & delicious fish tacos and I might call it heaven. That’s what you’ll get at Las Olas–the vibe (and food) is always on point.

Las Olas Mexican

Where to find the best fish tacos in Del Mar: The Brig

This is our favorite place to get happy hour tacos and enjoy a fancier restaurant at a lower price. We love these fish tacos because they are a classic recipe done right. Local’s tip: spend some time across the street at Del Mar Dog Beach before or after you go. Few things are better than watching happy doggies play in the ocean.

The Brigantine

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Where to find the best fish tacos in La Jolla: Puesto

Go here for more of a foodie/craft taco experience. Puesto is one of those places that puts a lot of thought and effort into each bite. The menu is interesting in the best possible way, the space is really fun, and they serve wines from Mexico’s nearby Valle de Guadalupe. The experience we had eating at Puesto was worth the slightly higher price.

Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen and Bar

Ollie’s Pick for the best fish taco in San Diego: SALUD in Logan Heights

This trendy yet authentic place blew us away. We didn’t come for fish tacos, but Ollie ended up ordering two and falling in love with them. They also serve bottled Coco Cola from Mexico (a.k.a. it’s made with real cane sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup). Local’s tip: Nearby Chicano Park is worth strolling through to admire all the Mexican-American/ Mexican-immigrant street art under the highway.

SALUD

 

You might also like: 3 Unique Spots for Your Next San Diego Brunch

Hello 2018: My Daydreams & Travel Goals

Happy New Year everyone! We all get another chance to reflect on the past, plan for the future, and make room for new goals. In 2017 I tried to do a trip-a-month, but this year’s travel goals will be quite different. New year new you right? (See if I accomplished last year’s goals here…I also share my reflections and highlights of 2017 travels). And now without further ado here are my travel goals for 2018:

Travel Less

Wait what? Isn’t this a travel blog and your first travel goal of the year is to not travel? Yes; lately I’ve been feeling a need to slow down from last year’s fast pace (most months we went out of town at least once but some months multiple times)…at least my bank account does. I’m hoping to save a decent chunk of money this year for something really special in 2019. It doesn’t mean I won’t be traveling though. See my next 2 goals! However, I do hope to budget more successfully, get into a routine of tracking my spending on a spreadsheet, and save some moolah!

Go on my First Solo Trip

I did live in London for 2 months basically on my own in 2014, but I had 3 girls from my college in the same building and visitors for about half my time there. I don’t really classify it as a solo trip even though I did lots of exploring on my own. I’m overdue to have my first official solo female travel experience. I think it would teach me a lot, and it’s something I don’t want to wait much longer to make happen. My dream locations are Israel and Copenhagen. Japan has also recently become a top contender for a girls trip if solo travel doesn’t end up happening, so we’ll see what 2018 brings my way.

Travel to Out-of-town Weddings

We have 4 weddings to attend in 2018 between Chicago, Maryland, Mexico, and San Diego. A lot of our time off work will be used for these occasions and I AM SO EXCITED!

Explore more of beautiful San Diego

We are so lucky to live in southern California, and I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of its awesomeness. I’m hoping that slowing down our travels will leave us with more time to explore the ins and outs here in San Diego. I’ve been dying to check out more breweries, restaurants, cafes, and bars to get a better feel for all the neighborhoods. We’ve hit a majority of the touristy spots by now so we can focus more on local gems this year. I also want to take advantage of the amazing weather and spend lots of time outdoors!

What changes do you hope to make in 2018? Where are you daydreaming about visiting?

2017 Travel Review & if I Accomplished #tripamonth

Are years flying by faster and faster or is it just me? I cannot believe 2017 is almost over, but nonetheless it’s time to reflect on the past before making way for 2018. This year I set myself the goal of doing a #tripamonth (some people call it #take12trips). I didn’t want having a full time job to slow me down from pursuing outside passions (aka travel). This goal was so close to being accomplished, but I did not leave town in December.

Can’t be mad about that, though–we had family visiting and we all know it’s not where you are but who you’re with that matters 🙂 Work obligations on top of not wanting to deal with moving around over Christmas also impacted our travel-less December. Some months of the year we did more than one trip, so I feel like I can cut myself a bit of slack and say it was a successful #tripamonth year… So here is a review of where 2017 took me! I also added the links to all the blogs that resulted from each trip if you want to relive any of them with me before we say hello to 2018 🙂

January: started 2017 in NYC with family which was so epic.

Summer vs. Winter: NYC Edition

February: went on an amazing girls trip to Arizona.

Here’s Why You Should Visit the Grand Canyon in February (with photos)

How To Spend 4 Days Adventuring Through Arizona

March: found couple heaven and learned how to ski in Big Bear.

Why I Don’t Want to Tell You Where We Stayed in Big Bear

April: went to Indianapolis for a wedding with a pit stop at Purdue; also went to LA for a concert and hockey game.

no posts resulted, oh my!

May: left the country for the only time this year and drove around Iceland with my bestie; also snuck over to San Francisco for a quick weekend over Memorial Day.

What It’s Really Like Driving Around Iceland

Street Art Spotlight: Reykjavik

Strange in the Best Way: Iceland Through Stories and Photos

Another Weekend Spent Falling in Love with San Francisco

June: went to Chicago for a wedding, and I fell even more in love with that city.

no post resulted! Highlights included Cubs game and rooftop bars overlooking Millennium Park and Lincoln Park

July: got a taste of island life when we stayed overnight just off the coast of LA on Catalina Island.

How We Found Ourselves on Catalina Island

August: spent a fun weekend with friends in Redondo Beach.

We spent a lot of time over the summer enjoying home… I wrote this post about all the reasons I love Solana Beach.

September: returned to a really special spot in Big Bear, hung out with friends in D.C. and got our NYC fix yet again; visited LA another time for a girls weekend.

The Top 6 Reasons I Have a Crush on Alpenhorn B&B

Culture, Concrete, & Calories: 5 Amazing Days in NYC

How to See the Best of D.C. in a Day

What Traveling Somewhere You Don’t Like Can Teach You

October: blissful weekend in San Francisco over Halloween.

The Best Way to Check Sausalito Off Your Bucket List

Where to Have a Great Meal in San Francisco

November: Miami which I’m still smiling about.

An Expat’s Top Reasons to Tailgate when You Visit the U.S.

Miami for Couples: First Timers’ Guide to a Hot Weekend

December: exploring San Diego and discovering more local favorites

We also had many friends and family come visit us in San Diego throughout the year, so we were always doing something fun. It still feels like I’m on vacation even though I live here. I’ll share my San Diego specific posts below.

9 Delightful Ways To Have The Best San Diego Summer

Rosé and Summer Memories

5 Things To Do in San Diego When it’s Raining

3 Unique Spots for Your Next San Diego Brunch

Travel Awards

I spent some time reflecting on all these trips and wanted to break them down a bit more for anyone interested.

Most Peaceful: Iceland, runner up Big Bear

Most Impressive View: Grand Canyon, runner up Iceland

Most Fun: Miami, runner up NYC

Place That was Just OK: LA, runner up Catalina Island

Place with the Best Food: San Francisco, runner up Chicago

Favorite Bucket List Activity: Blue Lagoon in Iceland, runner up National Archives Museum in D.C.

Favorite Accommodation: Alpenhorn Bed and Breakfast in Big Bear, runner up Kimpton EPIC Hotel in downtown Miami

Place I Want to Return to the Most: Miami, runner up NYC (can never get enough of that city)

Places Visited More Than Once: NYC, San Francisco, LA, Big Bear

Favorites in San Diego: Karl Strauss Sunday Brunch, runner up El Prez rooftop bar

 

2017 was such a great travel-filled year, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!

What were your most memorable travel moments of 2017? Would you do the #tripamonth challenge?

Miami for Couples: First Timers’ Guide to a Hot Weekend

To say we enjoyed our time in Miami would be an understatement. It was quite possibly the best weekend of the year, and we’ve had A LOT of good weekends in 2017. It’s kind of magic when you travel as a couple and find a place that makes each person as happy as the other. We both adored everything we did all weekend, but Ollie especially loved the sporting events while I loved the art, cultural vibes, and beach. It was my first visit to Miami and Ollie’s second. I highly recommend the following for anyone visiting Miami as a couple for the first time!

Where to stay in Miami:

We checked into the Kimpton Epic Hotel in downtown Miami. Our room was super nice, especially the bathroom. Sadly the hotel pool was under renovation which was kind of the main reason I booked this hotel, but we liked our stay regardless. The location was decent. We were a quick Uber from Wynwood, Little Havana, and SoBe. We probably spent more time in South Beach than anywhere else, so booking a place in SoBe would have been smart but probably a lot more expensive.

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Looking over the river from our balcony

What to eat in Miami:

If you are a fan of bottomless brunches, you HAVE to go to Prime Fish in South Beach. For $55 you get unlimited mimosas (other bottomless options available) and 4 and a half hours to devour a really upmarket buffet. They do the brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Apparently Sunday gets really crazy, so we went on Saturday to enjoy chiller vibes.

The other amazing meal we had was at Doce Provisions in Little Havana. I would describe it as hipster Cuban. We were both blown away by our meals and the atmosphere.

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Cuban spin on chicken and waffles @ Doce Provisions
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So excited for my salmon @ Doce Provisions

Where to drink alcohol in Miami:

In South Beach, we killed some time at the Clevelander. Ollie loved that bar, but I thought it was just ok. He was in a party mood and I was in a beach mood, though, ha!

In Little Havana we really enjoyed our time at Ball and Chain drinking happy hour cocktails and listening to live music. Nothing beats live music, especially when it’s Cuban or jazz.

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Ball and Chain!
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Loving Little Havana

We also ended up going on a sort of brewery hop in Wynwood, stopping at Wynwood Brewing Co., Concrete Beach, and J Wakefield Brewing. I highly recommend each of these spots–the craft beer was fantastic and the interiors unique.

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I think Concrete Beach was my favorite brewery!
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J Wakefield Brewing, Wynwood

What to do in Miami:

Besides sleeping, eating, and drinking there is so much to do in Miami.

Attend a professional sporting event: Miami is home to the Dolphins, an NFL team. Going to the recently renovated Hard Rock Stadium for the game was our main reason for this visit. It was so much fun and the tailgate was even better! I wrote all about that here. Miami also has an NBA team, the Miami Heat. Ollie was bummed they weren’t playing while we were there, especially because our hotel was so close to the arena. Next time! If you’re a baseball fan, head to a Miami Marlins game. All of those stadiums looked so nice.

Chill on the beach: One of my favorite parts of our visit was relaxing on South Beach. It was definitely busy, but that made people watching the international crowd that much better. The water was mesmerizing as well–I couldn’t stop staring at the bright blues. Living in San Diego, I’ve gotten used to the Pacific Ocean, which is definitely beautiful but usually too cold for me to enjoy. Being able to go in for a swim was the best! I also loved all the colorful lifeguard stations and being able to look back towards the mainland and see all the art deco buildings.

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One happy girl walking along South Beach
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Beautiful blues in SoBe

Explore Wynwood: Wynwood is so cool and was the highlight of the trip for me. There is street art EVERYWHERE, hip coffee spots, incredible breweries, funky shops, and tons of art galleries. We ordered room service at 2 a.m. the night before coming to Wynwood, so I unfortunately don’t have any food recommendations haha. We started our afternoon in Wynwood at Panther Coffee, admired the Wynwood Walls, strolled around some shops while taking in all the street art, and went to the three breweries I mentioned above. Highly highly recommend carving out a few hours to wander around Wynwood.

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Panther Coffee @ Wynwood Walls
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One of my favorite snaps from Wynwood
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Loved those two pieces
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Miami definitely makes you feel that way 🙂
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Scenes of NYC in Wynwood
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Wynwood Walls
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Don’t forget to look up, Wynwood Walls

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Art is EVERYWHERE in Wynwood <3
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Walking into Plant the Future, Wynwood
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Plant the Future, Wynwood
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Browsing succulents @ Plant the Future in Wynwood

Experience Cuba in Little Havana: After an afternoon in Wynwood, catch a quick Uber to Little Havana to experience the evening festivities. We went on a Monday, so apparently it was dead compared to the weekends, but we still found it very lively and fun. First we checked out a couple of the Cuban shops (aka cigars for days), then settled in at Ball and Chain (mentioned above) for drinks and music. We weren’t quite ready for dinner so we walked to the bar across the street and repeated our steps at Ball and Chain haha–more drinks and live music. The atmosphere of Little Havana was incredible. We finished a perfect day with a perfect meal at Doce Provisions (also mentioned above).

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Shopping for cigars in Little Havana

What to do with a few random free hours in Miami:

Check out an art museum: We had a couple awkwardly placed hours to spare before our flight home, and I wanted to get in another dose of art after being so inspired by Wynwood the day before. I headed to The Perez Art Museum. It was the perfect way to spend an hour or so. Ollie didn’t feel like coming in, so he grabbed a beer and sat on the beautiful patio that looks over Biscayne Bay while waiting for me. I loved this museum. It was small enough to wander through it all, but interesting enough to hold my attention the whole time. I loved reading the blurbs about each piece and seeing so much work by Cuban artists.

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Outside the Perez Art Museum
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Perez Art Museum, Miami
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This wall made me happy 🙂

What we could have done outside Miami with more time:

A CRUISE! I would love to come back and do a 4-5 day caribbean cruise.

Rent a convertible and road trip to Key West. All the people we met highly recommended spending a day or night in Key West–it’s gotta be beautiful!

Miami, you are such a hottie!

I have a feeling we won’t be able to stay away from you 😉 Have you ever been to Miami? Did you like it as much as we did?

An Expat’s Top Reasons to Tailgate when You Visit the U.S.

Someone coming to the States who wants to have an American time should look no further than “the tailgate.” Sport is such a huge part of our culture here. Between professional and college sports, there’s hardly ever a day where you can’t tune into something on TV whether it be baseball, basketball, football, soccer, golf, tennis, hockey, etc. I spoke to my husband (an expert with years of personal experience integrating into American culture) about this sacred practice so you can really get a feel for why you should attend a tailgate if you are coming to the U.S.

First, some general information about the American tailgate:

The most common sport to tailgate for is American football…NFL (National Football League) and college teams–not soccer which is called football in every other country. Football season runs roughly from the end of August to the first weekend of February, so if you are traveling to the U.S. in that window I highly recommend researching to see if any games will be on where you will be traveling. Even if you aren’t a big sports fan or if you don’t understand the rules of football, the NFL is a league built purely on entertainment so it will be an experience regardless.

Tailgating is the name given to partying before the game begins usually out of a vehicle. A tailgate typically occurs in a parking lot outside the stadium and lasts about 3-4 hours. People get all decked out in their team apparel (some fans get way dressed up which is fun to see), grill out, eat, drink beers and other alcoholic beverages, dance to music, and just get hyped about the game in general. Like I said at the start, it is a very interesting and fun tradition in American culture. Americans take sports pretty seriously, with most people having extreme loyalty to certain teams from their hometown or where they went to college. The tailgate is another avenue, besides just attending the game, to outwardly express this loyalty.

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Hard Rock Stadium in Miami

I sat down with Ollie to get his take on tailgating and why he recommends experiencing one if you can. Here’s what he had to say:

Tailgating is like God’s gift to society.

The only time an Uber dropping you off 2 miles away from your destination is ever justified is when you know you’re walking to a tailgate. As you get closer to the stadium, you smell the grills fired up with every delicious thing your slightly intoxicated mind could imagine. You walk through the sea of tents with the stadium in the background, and it feels heavenly because you know what’s about to happen. It creates the perfect ambience for getting into your zone before the game.

The die-hard tailgater is surely something that needs to be seen.

Some people not only set up tents/coolers/grills but also set up satellite dishes, flat screen TVs, electronic generators, and sound systems out of the back of their car so they can watch other sports during the tailgate. These people are the pinnacle of what sporting life is all about. You also don’t want to miss the super fans who get all dressed up in different costumes for the game.

Attending a tailgate can potentially save you money at the game.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that $14 for a Bud Light could run Bill Gates’s bank account into the ground. One of the great advantages of tailgating is insuring that you get your fill before you even step a foot inside the stadium. Let’s not forget about cost of food. If you’re lucky enough to tailgate with people who know their way around a grill you are going to have a good time.

The atmosphere at a tailgate is one-of-a-kind.

There is no sense of excitement like die hard fans grilling and drinking outside of a stadium wearing their team colors. The excitement of fans in its purest form is something you could only see at a tailgate. You don’t want to miss seeing everyone tossing around the pig skin, playing corn hole, listening to music and dancing around. It is the pregame TURN UP.

Thanks for those great words of wisdom Ollie 🙂

Practical tips for attending a tailgate:

The NFL has restrictions on what you can bring into games. If you don’t know anyone to tailgate with or don’t have a vehicle to leave stuff in, I recommend putting some beers and ice into a disposable bag or container. That way you can have drinks during the tailgate without needing to store anything when it’s time to head into the game. They only allow you to bring clear bags into the game, so you’ll need one of those. Alternatively what I do is keep my ID, credit card, and cellphone in my pockets and go without a bag.

It just so happens that we were recently in Miami for a Dolphins game and attended our third Dolphin’s tailgate (but our first actually in Miami). Here are some photos to give you a glimpse into what it looks like when it all comes together.

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Gotta rock your team colors!
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Parking lot filled to the brim!
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Super fans!

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I love the team Bud cans!
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MIAMI DOLPHINS

Have we convinced you to add tailgating to your US itinerary?

 

Where to Have a Great Meal in San Francisco

San Francisco might be my favorite place to go out to eat. Each time I visit, I make it a point to try something new and different because I know I won’t be let down. I feel like you can get anything in San Francisco because of how many people from different cultures call it home. I also love the small, homey vibe of the restaurants. In my opinion the coziness makes the whole experience even tastier. Over the past year, I’ve been to San Francisco three times and have had AMAZING dinners each visit. I love how you can feel like you’re in another country without ever leaving the city. If you’re looking for somewhere to sit down for a great meal I highly recommend the following places!

  • Cafe Europa for Ukrainian/Polish
  • B-Star for Burmese fusion
  • Tony’s for Italian
  • Leopold’s for German

I asked my cousin for her recommendations as well (born and raised in SF!):

  • Elephant Sushi on Hyde Street for Japanese
  • Don Pisto’s in North Beach for Mexican
  • Tartine Bakery Devil’s Tooth Bakery
  • Woodhouse Fish Company on Fillmore Street for seafood
  • Bonus restaurant on her radar: Swan Oyster Depot 

San Francisco continues to win over my heart (and stomach) each visit, and I always leave feeling a bit more cultured 🙂

What’s your favorite city in terms of food??

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Just the appetizer @ Tony’s…when the main came out it was gone before I could get a photo.
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Mains @ B-Star